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Kalanchoe blossfeldiana - Flaming Katy. How to grow and care for Kalanchoe

Flaming Katy - The Kalanchoe

The Plant: Kalanchoe Plants are a wide range of evergreen, succulent perennial plants found in many different parts of the world. One thing in common, being that they are all succulents, with a minimum requirement for water. In the natural habitat, many grow into large shrubs or small trees.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is the most common of the group grown as house plants. Flaming Katy is no longer a good common name, for a wide range of colours due to hybridization includes pure white, pinks assorted, orange shades and of course the scarlet red!

Bright green fleshy leaves with serrated margins form a neat rosette; above which are borne clusters of vividly coloured, long lasting, small flowers .

As with all succulent plants, minimum watering is preferred to normal or saturation watering! It's Madagascar origins have insisted that it evolved as a succulent - capable of long periods of drought and hot temperatures.

Its flower production is dependent upon day-length. The commercial grower can provide them in flower at any time of the year - simply by blocking out, or adding, daylight or artificial light to trick it into flower out of natural season!

Care of Kalanchoe Plants

Its needs:

 This cheerful plant needs strong light including some direct sun. The general  potting mix with added soil, should afford good drainage. Normal humidity but protect from frost, ideally keep the winter temperature above 1 2C.

Care: Water well every week through the growing season, and include feed, but reduce watering in winter. Allow the compost to dry out fully before the next watering - even for a few days or a week.

Remove the faded flowers regularly to ensure long flowering period.

 Take care not to place the Kalanchoe by a window which gets the winter chill or the direct sun during the hottest part of the day in summer as both these extremes will cause leaf scorch.

Good for: Flaming Katy makes an ideal winter-flowering gift. A very easy to maintain, cheerful plant. Although they can be kept from year to year most people discard them after flowering. If you are growing your own Kalanchoes they will only produce flower buds when the day length is less than 12 hours , so unless artificially manipulated, Kalanchoe Plants will not product flower buds in summer.

Comprehensive Guide to Problems, Pests, and Diseases Affecting Kalanchoe Plants

Kalanchoe plants are popular succulents with vibrant flowers and thick, waxy leaves. However, like any plant, they can be susceptible to a variety of problems, pests, and diseases. Here's a comprehensive list.

Common Problems

Overwatering Kalanchoe plants are prone to root rot if overwatered. Symptoms include yellowing leaves, leaf drop, and a musty smell from the soil.

Prevention/Treatment: Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. If root rot is suspected, remove the plant from its pot, trim away rotten roots, and repot in fresh, well-draining soil.

Underwatering While they're drought-tolerant, underwatered Kalanchoes may have wrinkled or shriveled leaves.

Prevention/Treatment: Water the plant thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry.

Common Pests

Scale Insects

These small, flat insects attach themselves to the plant and suck out its sap, leading to yellow, wilted leaves.

Identification/Treatment: They can be identified by the small, brown, shell-like bumps on the leaves or stems. Treat by wiping them off with a cloth soaked in alcohol or applying an insecticidal soap.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny pests that cause speckling on the leaves and fine webs.

Identification/Treatment: Look for tiny, moving dots on the undersides of leaves or thin, spider-like webs. Rinse the plant with water and apply an insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Mealybugs appear as tiny, white, cottony masses and cause yellowing leaves and stunted growth.

Identification/Treatment: They can be identified by the cotton-like residue they leave behind. Wipe them off with a cloth soaked in alcohol or use an insecticidal soap.

Common Diseases

Powdery Mildew

This fungal disease appears as white, powdery spots on leaves and thrives in high humidity.

Identification/Treatment: Look for white, powdery patches on the leaf surface. Reduce humidity around the plant and apply a suitable fungicide.

Bacterial Leaf Spot

This disease causes dark, water-soaked spots on the leaves which eventually turn brown and necrotic.

Identification/Treatment: Identify it by the dark, often circular spots on leaves. Remove affected leaves and avoid splashing water on the foliage when watering. Apply a copper-based bactericide for severe infections.

Remember, prevention is the best form of defense against these issues. Providing your Kalanchoe with the right growing conditions - bright light, well-draining soil, and careful watering - will go a long way in keeping it healthy and vibrant.

There are several houseplant pests and in particular watch for mealy bug in the leaf axils. Scale insect and aphids can also be a problem.

It can also suffer from Downy Mildew - often as a result of excessive watering or feeding.

Comprehensive Guide to Propagating Kalanchoe Plants

Scientific Background

Kalanchoe, a genus in the Crassulaceae family, comprises around 125 species of plants native to Madagascar and tropical Africa. Known for their vibrant flowers and succulent leaves, Kalanchoes are popular houseplants. They exhibit a wide range of forms, from small shrubs to large perennials.

Several species like Kalanchoe pinnata and Kalanchoe blossfeldiana have been studied for their medicinal properties, including antiurolithiatic, antimicrobial, antidiabetic activities, and even potential anticancer properties.

Propagation Methods

Materials Required
  • Sharp, sterilized cutting tool
  • Rooting hormone (optional)
  • Potting mix (well-draining, suitable for succulents)
  • Container or pot with drainage holes
  • Clear plastic bag or mini greenhouse

Best Time to Propagate

The best time to propagate Kalanchoe plants is during the growing season, typically spring or early summer.

Stem Cutting

  1. Cutting: Select a healthy, mature stem and cut a 3-6 inch section. Make sure your cutting tool is clean and sharp to avoid damaging the plant.
  2. Preparation: Remove the lower leaves, leaving only a few at the top. Let the cut end dry out for a day or two. This process, known as callousing, helps prevent rot.
  3. Planting: Dip the calloused end in rooting hormone if desired, then plant it in a pot filled with well-draining soil. Bury about an inch of the stem in the soil.
  4. Care: Water sparingly until roots develop. Keep the soil slightly moist but not waterlogged. Place the pot in a warm location with bright, indirect light.

Leaf Cutting

  1. Cutting: Choose a healthy, mature leaf and remove it from the plant. Let it dry and callous over for a day or two.
  2. Planting: Place the leaf on top of well-draining soil. The calloused end should be in contact with the soil.
  3. Care: Like stem cuttings, keep the soil slightly moist and provide bright, indirect light.

Seed Propagation

While seed propagation is possible, it's less commonly used due to the longer germination period and lower success rate. If you choose this method, sow the seeds in well-draining soil and keep them warm and lightly moist until they germinate.

Tips for Successful Propagation

Avoid overwatering: Kalanchoes are succulents and can easily rot if overwatered. Provide ample light: These plants need bright light to grow well, but protect them from intense direct sunlight which can scorch them. Maintain warm temperatures: Kalanchoes prefer temperatures between 60-85°F.

With these steps, you can successfully propagate and enjoy more of these beautiful, hardy plants in your home.

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